Friday, September 22, 2017

Top Ten Things: Iron Maiden Songs

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, where I pick my ten favorite somethingorother and bug all of you about it.

Today it's my ten favorite Iron Maiden songs! 

One of the most influential metal bands of all time, Iron Maiden was formed in the mid-70s by bassist Steve Harris.  Over the first few years the band went through various incarnations, hiring and firing band members with a frequency that would make Spinal Tap cringe.  Finally in 1980 they released their self-titled debut album and immediately gained a strong UK following, in competition with the burgeoning punk scene.  Bands like Maiden, Diamondhead, Venom, Motorhead, and several others formed a musical zeitgeist called The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (which influenced literally dozens of bands here in the States).  Maiden was soon forced to sack lead singer Paul D'Anno due to his increasing drug issues, and his replacement was diminutive onstage firecracker Bruce Dickinson, who brought incredible vocal range/power and athletic physicality to the role of frontman.  Their third album The Number of the Beast was a No. 1 smash hit in the UK and propelled Iron Maiden to international stardom.  A slew of successful albums followed, containing scores of classic songs, until Dickinson left the band in 1993 to pursue a solo career.  His successor Blaze Bayley recorded two albums to a rather tepid reaction, and in 1999 Dickinson was coaxed back into the fold.

Over the past fifteen years Maiden has released five more albums and embarked on several hugely successful world tours, and they remain a chart-topping worldwide phenomenon.  Their music has evolved a bit over the years but they've always maintained their signature galloping energy and  literature-inspired lyrics.  Their onstage enthusiasm continues to defy the band members' advancing age, and they routinely deliver an amazing live concert experience.  A side note: historically just as mythical as the band's music are the album covers and other associated imagery.  For years artist Derek Riggs created some of the greatest cover art in music history, featuring the band's undead mascot Eddie the Head.  A few of my favorite Riggs pieces are the covers of Powerslave, Somewhere in Time, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, and Live After Death.

But enough about that; here are my picks for the Top Ten Iron Maiden songs of all time.

**Note: While I like and appreciate some of their 21st Century work, for me the classic Maiden period was 1980-1992, so all ten picks fall into that timeframe.**

10. The Trooper

Probably the most noteworthy song on 1983's Piece of Mind (Dickinson's favorite album), "The Trooper" kicks off with a start and stop feel, over which Bruce barks a defiant battle cry ("You take my life but I'll take yours too/You fire your musket but I'll run you through").  The band then dives into charging pace as the wordless chorus takes over.  What other lasting metal tunes boast a refrain consisting of nothing more than "Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!"

9. The Prophecy

Yeah I know this is from "The Clairvoyant,"
but I couldn't find a "Prophecy"-specific piece of art.

The first of two entries from Seventh Son, "The Prophecy" opens with a gentle clean guitar arpeggio before exploding into a heavy triplet groove.  Dickinson regretfully howls out a warning message to an unnamed group of villagers of their impending doom, which then goes unheeded.  "The Prophecy" is simple but tremendously hooky, jumping from a minor key verse into a major key chorus.  I also love the baroque acoustic guitar outro.

8. Iron Maiden

The one non-Dickinson song on this list is the self-titled final track of the self-titled debut album.  An uncomplicated, nihilistic metal anthem, the lyrics of "Iron Maiden" dare the listener to partake in the graphic violence of the band's music, despite the music's oddly cheery tone.  This song is akin to Metallica's "Whiplash;" simply an ode to the brutality of metal.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Movie Review: mother! (2017)

What to say about mother!?  That's uh....that's a movie alright.

Darren Aronofsky's divisive allegory about a married couple whose tranquil country home is overrun by unwanted guests plays out like a two-hour nightmare directed by Roman Polanski (with a few Kubrickian touches as well).  The wife, played by Jennifer Lawrence, seemingly has various repeated hallucinations (including a bloody spot on the floor rotting away into the basement beneath, a beating heart inside the walls, lightbulbs exploding, etc.), while her writer's-blocked poet husband (Javier Bardem) invites more and more guests into the house, seemingly as a way to avoid intimacy with her.  Gradually Lawrence's mental state appears to become further detached from reality, and everything goes completely haywire. 

That, on the surface, is essentially the plot of the film.  I can't really say anything more without involving ***SPOILERS***, so from here on in, consider yourself warned.  I'll try to be as non-specific as I can.

First off I'll answer the question of whether I "liked" mother!  The answer truly is this - I'm not quite sure.  While just about every review I've read has either enthusiastically praised Aronofsky's bold, anti-mainstream attack on the senses or comically dismissed the film as utter trash (I'm looking at you Rex Reed, you odiously miserable douchebag), my feelings rested squarely in the middle, somewhere. 

I admired Aronofsky's technical prowess; mother! has the off-putting visual claustrophobia of Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, with the down n' dirty graininess of The Wrestler.  I admired the performances across the board.  Bardem is somehow warmly menacing, like someone you want to trust if only you could shake the feeling that he's hiding a dreaful secret.  Ed Harris is affable but presumptuous.  Michelle Pfeiffer (great to see her again) nearly steals the show as a prying, socially inappropriate pillar of passive-aggressive.  And Jennifer Lawrence, while not quite giving a career performance, holds the film together as the overwhelmed homemaker who gives as much of herself as she possibly can while clinging desperately to her patience and sanity.  I admired the anxiety-building tone of the first half, where we know something is very much not right in this house but can't figure out why or what.  I admired the absolute hallucinatory anarchy of the second half, where rooms, situations and people seem to morph into something completely different the second we take our eyes off them, as in a vividly bad dream.  It must've taken incredible dexterity and confidence to stage and film these sequences, and from a visceral standpoint they work.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WWE No Mercy 2017 Preview & Predictions

Wow, it feels like SummerSlam was forever ago, even though it's only been five weeks.  I guess that's what happens when WWE doesn't have four PPVs a month...

This Sunday is No Mercy, which for some reason was moved up a month and changed to a RAW PPV.  I don't get the schedule shuffling they're doing this year.  Hell in a Cell is now Smackdown-only, TLC is now RAW-only, Starrcade is coming back as a Smackdown televised house show essentially.  It's just super confusing.  Whatever...

This show is pretty stacked.  In fact they're giving away two WrestleMania-worthy matches.  On a B-PPV.  I don't get it.  They should both be something special though.  I suppose WWE programming is way more enjoyable when you don't think about it.  On with the picks...

***I'm in the lead with 46/67 (69%), Landon's in second with 36/55 (65%), Dave's third with 21/33 (64%), and Dan's bringing up the rear with 39/67 (58%)***

Cruiserweight Championship: Neville vs. Enzo Amore

I mean, Enzo?  Really?  I get that he qualifies for a Cruiserweight, but technically so do I.  And I wouldn't watch me fight in the Cruiserweight division.  Enzo is literally all talk.  He's good on the mic, stinks in the ring.  'The hell is he gonna do in a Cruiserweight match?  No wonder nobody takes this division seriously.  Enzo has no business winning this.

Justin: Neville retains
Dan: Enzo SUCKS. I don't even like his mic work. He tries to come up with funny shit, but it's cringe-worthy comedy. Neville better effin' retain.
Landon: I DARE them to just kill the division dead. They killed ECW, they can kill cruiserweights. Neville retains, I hope.
Dave: Neville. Enzo has been annoying since he's been in WWE.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Jason Jordan

Poor Jason.  He had such potential, particularly as part of American Alpha.  But WWE "creative" decided to split up that great team and put Jason on RAW as Kurt Angle's son.  And literally no one cared.  Therefore WWE doubled down on this stupid move and kept running with it, rather than just letting it fade away.  I can't see them giving Jordan a PPV Title match here if he isn't winning it.  But it's too early.

Justin: Jordan wins and everyone gets pissed.  Maybe he'll make a good heel as a result.
Landon: Let it ride. Jordan to be pushed into burning out, then wondering why it didn't work.
Dave: I'm rooting for the Miz but I think he's gonna lose which is pointless.

Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt

I don't know why this feud is continuing, especially in another regular match.  We already saw The Demon at SummerSlam, so anything less than that is a step backward.  I'm guessing the story will be that Finn can't get the job done without being in Demon form.  Meh...the match will be fine but I don't care.

Justin: Bray wins
Dan: Finn for the winn
Landon: Wyatt
Dave: Man, I don't care.  Bray I guess.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Independence Day

Welcome to another Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at, where I overanalyze some big dumb slab of escapist entertainment to the point that you unfriend me on social media*.

*Please don't unfriend me, I'm so lonely....

Today's victim-- er, subject is the 1996 blockbuster event picture Independence Day, directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman.

Independence Day's release twenty years ago was preceded by mucho fanfare, with moviegoers anticipating that generation's defining summer movie, a la Star Wars.  Its interest bolstered by promotional images of landmark buildings being decimated by giant alien saucers, ID4 made an absolute KILLING at the box office, garnering over $800 million worldwide on a $75 mil budget.  It was assumed this would be the first of a trilogy since it was supposed to sorta be the next Star Wars and it grossed a fuckton.  But oddly a sequel was never made until two decades later.  Maybe the filmmakers didn't have another story to tell.  Maybe they still don't....

Anywho, you might ask yourself "Why does ID4 qualify as an Awesomely Shitty Movie?"  Well my reasons this time are slightly different than usual.  For me, this film was unabashedly awesome the first time I watched it, and agonizingly shitty on every repeat viewing.  This is a prime example of a film you should only watch one time.  Then throw it away and never speak of it again.  Don't even think about it.  You'll only break your brain and end up in a home.

So let's pick apart this ham-fisted clod of a summer movie, shall we?

The Awesome


The special effects in this movie looked amazing at the time and for the most part still look at least pretty good twenty years later.  Some of the compositing is a little messy, particularly when they show the Earth from space, but the alien craft are still convincing, the model work (which I almost always prefer over excessive CG) looks tangible and believable, and there are multiple shots in the first hour or so that still hold up.

This part still works

Alien Ships Appear

For example the moments when the giant saucers appear over the various major cities.  We see several shots of the massive ships emerging from behind the clouds and it looks great.  The filmmakers expertly conveyed the scope of the spacecraft, showing us just how insanely huge and intimidating they are.  Few things are as immediately threatening as an alien ship blocking out the sun and spanning the width of an entire city.  Super cool-looking stuff.

So does this

Iconic Imagery

This film also provided several lasting images, such as the saucer blowing up the White House, the Empire State Building, etc.  These moments would have a huge influence on Hollywood blockbusters even to this day (More on that later).  Even the poster looked boss, depicting one of the ships hovering over New York City.  The marketing team certainly earned their keep with this movie.

And this

WCW Monday Nitro #3: Pillman vs. Flair, Savage attacked on the Beach

Didn't really feel like doing a full Fall Brawl write up, so here's the quick notes.

Flyin' Brian vs Johnny B Badd had a fucking phenomenal match. I can't recommend this shit enough. It's a marvel it was the opener. I don't even want to spoil the ending for you for maximum enjoyment. ****

DDP won the WCW TV title from Renegade in a nothing match. Watch it for DDP's smoking hot Diamond Doll, and the awesome finish. *3/4

The match between Arn Anderson and Ric Flair was so spectacular that I was ready to give it 5 stars. But the finish, Pillman interfering to set up the main event of this Nitro, ruined that prospect. Still a great match to watch. ***3/4

War Games was wacky. Fuck it. *1/2

WCW Nitro #3, September 18th, 1995
Freedom Hall in Johnson City, Tennessee 

The show opened with The giant and The Taskmaster coming from an ambulance claiming they killed Hulk Hogan. This show really is stuck right in the middle of the 90s.

WCW Tag Team Championship
Harlem Heat (w/Sister Sherri) (c) vs. The American Males

All of you have to stop. If you've never heard the American Males theme, click the video to the left here.

We good? A'int that so clownshoes it's amazing?

This was going to be the Males vs. The Bluebloods, but Harlem Heat beat Robert Eaton down on camera, and I assume drove a stake through Steve Regal's heart in a vain attempt to kill him because he wasn't on this show. Harlem heat  challenged the free living Americans to try and take their titles. Heat took 80% of the match, before Rob Parker came out to woo Sister Sherri with promises of oil and land. This magically turned the tides, as Bagwell reversed a Pumphandle by Booker into a Crossbody for the pinfall and the American Males won the tag titles!

Monday, September 18, 2017

RIP Bobby "The Brain" Heenan (1944-2017)

The wrestling world (universe?) lost one of its all-time greats yesterday, as legendary manager/wrestler/broadcast journalist Bobby "The Brain" Heenan passed away at the age of 72.  One of the best talkers in wrestling history, in 2002 Heenan sadly developed throat cancer of all things, largely robbing him of his greatest gift, his wonderful voice.

I first became aware of Heenan in 1986 when I started watching the wacky pretend sport of professional wrestling.  Like most kids who first take an interest in this stuff, I was initially a babyface loyalist.  My favorite wrestler at the time was of course Hulk Hogan, and anyone trying to take away his WWF Championship was a reviled enemy.  In the mid-80s Hogan had perhaps no more fiercely staunch onscreen detractor than The Brain, whose Heenan Family stable members frequently challenged for the belt.  During this era Heenan's mission statement was essentially "kill Hulkamania."  Thus I hated him.  I mean, HATED him.  Heenan was one of those heels whose appearance made me cringe, and I wanted to see him (and his wrestlers) get murdered in the ring.  It wasn't until 1989 that I realized "Wait, I hate this guy because he's so damn good at his job."

Wrestling managers are something of a lost art.  In the 80s a good manager could get a mediocre wrestler over just by cutting good promos.  The manager would be the mouthpiece, the wrestler was the muscle.  A heel manager could talk as much shit as he wanted, and he'd have his wrestler or stable there to back it up.  And if the manager was really good?  Whatever new guy he took on was instantly credible, just by association.  Not only that, if any new babyface came along to feud with one of said manager's clients?  Instant heat.  Bobby Heenan was one of those managers.  He took for example a low-card babyface team like The Islanders, who lost pretty much every week, and turned them into a formidible heel team who got the better of The British Bulldogs.  Conversely Ken Patera, a former Heenan client who'd been absent from WWF TV for three years due to a prison term, returned as a reformed babyface who blamed Heenan for his deviant ways.  Their resulting feud was red-hot for a little while, and made Patera relevant again.  Then of course there was Heenan's most famous angle, where he managed to turn Andre the Giant against Hulk Hogan, leading to the biggest match and PPV to date.  Just by his association with Heenan, Andre went from beloved special attraction to the most hated man in wrestling, overnight.  Bobby Heenan was one of those rare managers who could actually draw money.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Top Ten Things: KoRn Songs

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at, where I rattle off ten things I like.  Or don't like.  Or whatever you like.

Today I'll be talking about one of my favorite bands, that ragtag group of nu-metal pioneers, KoRn!  In short, I'll be counting down my ten favorite KoRn songs.

I came by my KoRn fandom rather unconventionally, which is to say I hated (HATED) this band for years before finally embracing them.  I first heard KoRn while working at Strawberries records store in the summer of 1995, when "Blind" was featured on the monthly disc of songs the company was pushing.  I didn't think much of the song and quickly dismissed this messy-sounding metal band as a passing trend.  Fast-forward a couple years and KoRn had become the biggest thing in heavy music, much to my chagrin at the time.  As a fan of traditional, intricate speed metal and the like, I couldn't wrap my brain around the detuned, deliberately ugly sound this band was peddling.  Songs like "Chi" and "Got the Life" actually made me physically angry to listen to, and not in a good way.  Then suddenly in 1999 they released Issues, a more melodic effort with dense vocal harmonies and textured guitar performances, and it all clicked into place for me.  I was able to get past my preconceived notions of what hard music "should" sound like and just enjoy this eccentric new approach.  Soon thereafter I relistened to their earlier albums, and within weeks I was a full-blown KoRn fanatic, and have been ever since.  The band may not get much mainstream attention these days, but I still rush out to buy every album.

But which songs are my favorite?  Well let's take a closer look.....

10. Spike in My Veins

The final single from their 2013 album The Paradigm Shift (notable for the return of Brian "Head" Welch on guitar), "Spike in My Veins" boasts a syncopated groove, complementary back-and-forth guitar overdubs, and a melodically simple but eminently hooky chorus.  The song instantly grabs you but also includes enough intricacies to warrant further listens, illustrating how much stronger the KoRn machine is with both of original guitarists in the fold.

9. Seed

This late-album track from Follow the Leader is seemingly about Davis's relationship with his son and his resultant longing for the simpler days of childhood.  The verse meanders at a slower tempo before shifting dramatically to a driving chorus, and the bridge section features two bizarre scat sections aided by a whammy pedal, giving Davis's voice an otherworldly, demonic sound.  "Seed" is one of the darkest-sounding songs on the album and for me a classic KoRn song.

8. Sing Sorrow

One of the bonus tracks from their untitled 2007 album, "Sing Sorrow" is unquestionably the best song from those sessions as far as I'm concerned.  This midtempo anthem deals with themes of society's values falling by the wayside, and the descending chord progression and elastic melody makes for one of the band's best-written hooks.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Top Ten Things: Stephen King Film Adaptations

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at!  I was told recently that I seem to do a lot of top ten lists of things I hate.  I'm pretty sure I've posted way more lists about things I like, but here's another one.  So suck on it, Larry.

Stephen King.  Perhaps no two proper nouns better exemplify the horror genre.  The very name sounds somehow sinister, like you can't say it without the gritty "movie trailer" voice.  Go ahead, try it.  When I was first introduced to King's work as a child there was something intimidating about that name with the imposing logo his publisher used at the time.

This one.  Looks so badass and they never should've changed it.

Thirty-some years later and Stephen King has produced more timeless horror stories and iconography than any other author.  He is the Edgar Allen Poe of his generation, and continues to churn out novels at a superhuman pace.  To borrow a line from Hamilton, he writes like he's running out of time.

King found success as a muse for Hollywood films very early in his career, selling his first novel Carrie for film adaptation only about a year after it was published.  From then on, King's work became an inspirational gold mine for filmmakers, to the point that in 1977 he began granting film rights to aspiring auteurs and students for only one dollar, provided the films would never be shown commercially without explicit permission.  As for Hollywood, the films inspired by King's writings over the years have grossed over $2.3 billion domestically when adjusted for inflation, with the latest, It, smashing numerous box office records in its opening weekend.

Stephen King's stories and novels have always lent themselves well to cinematic interpretation, and while the results are sometimes mixed, his works have indeed inspired some bona fide film classics.  Below are ten such examples....

10. Christine

One master of horror adapting another, John Carpenter's 1983 film version of King's novel is one of the great "killer car" stories.  Nerdy high school kid Arnie Cunningham falls in love with and buys a dilapidated (and unbeknownst to him, possessed) 1958 Plymouth, restoring it to pristine condition and gradually becoming its servant, at the expense of his actual friendships.  "Christine" then begins attacking Arnie's enemies and even displays the ability to repair itself after being damaged (In a scene that totally blew my mind as a kid).  John Carpenter spectacularly brings to life the evil car, imbuing it with the villainous idiosyncrasies of a human character and giving us one of the screen's most frightening vehicles.

9. The Running Man

This one a) hardly even qualifies as a Stephen King movie and b) is the guiltiest of pleasures.  King's novel The Running Man (published under his Richard Bachman pseudonym) is rife with sociopolitical commentary in addition to being a taut-as-fuck suspense/action thriller.  The protagonist volunteers for a sadistic game/reality show where he'll be hunted down by the authorities for a full month.  If he wins he gets one billion dollars.  If he gets caught he dies.  This novel is harrowing and smartly written, with a sensational climax.  The film on the other hand is a dumb, goofy Arnold Schwarzenegger action vehicle with pro wrestling-style villains and cartoonish set pieces.  But goddamn is it a lotta fun.  In the film, The Running Man is simply an American Gladiators-esque game show where convicted criminals face off against suped-up military types, and if they survive they get a full pardon.  Arnold's character (wrongly convicted of mass murder) not only has to escape over-the-top villains like Buzzsaw and Dynamo, but is also tasked with finding his friends' hidden resistance base, in the hopes of hijacking the TV signal and clearing his name.  As I said, this has VERY little in common with its source material but it's still an exceedingly enjoyable cheesy action film from a bygone era.  That said, I'm dying for someone to do a faithful adaptation.  (Check out my in-depth analysis HERE)

8. Carrie

The one that started it all, Brian DePalma's adaptation of King's first novel blended supernatural horror elements with an intimate character study.  Sissy Spacek shines as the socially crippled, telekinetically gifted title character, who is bullied by both her schoolmates and her overbearing, religiously fanatical mother (a crazy-scary Piper Laurie).  The film has an almost dreamlike quality, with washed-out visuals and plenty of DePalma's signature slow-mo technique.  It all builds to the iconic, horrifying climax where Carrie, soaked in pig's blood as the result of a cruel prank, lashes out at the entire school and later has a final showdown with her psychotic mom.  Boasting two excellent lead performances and one of the all-time classic climaxes, Carrie helped launch the careers of both King and DePalma and proved a highly influential example of its genre.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Top Ten Things: Weird Al Yankovic Albums

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at!

Today I'll be talking about a musical legend.  And a comedy legend.  And a certified genius (Seriously, he skipped second grade and was senior year valedictorian at sixteen).

Weird Al Yankovic burst into the American lexicon in 1984 with an off-beat parody of a Michael Jackson hit, and has somehow managed to build a hugely successful thirty-plus-year career lampooning our most cherished pop music stars.  As an eight-year-old Michael Jackson fanatic I was initially offended that anyone would parody one of his songs, but Al won me over when I first saw the video for "Eat It."  Here was a dorky, bespectacled nerd mimicking all of Jackson's dance moves (badly I might add) and conjuring comedy from already-tired rock video imagery.  By age twelve I'd bought all of Al's records, and I've been a huge fan ever since.  In 2000 I got to see Al from the front row, and he even yelled at me for not singing along to "Dare to Be Stupid."  It was indeed a privilege.  A new Weird Al CD is event listening in my house (for me anyway, my wife is non-committal).  Despite originating as a novelty act, Weird Al has endured three decades and shows no signs of stopping.  For many artists, being parodied by Al is a badge of honor, a sign that they've truly "made it."  Al is like a pop culture mirror, making light of all the silly fads we as a society cling to.  Here now are my ten favorite Weird Al Yankovic albums....

10. UHF - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff

The soundtrack to Al's 1989 summer flop sadly didn't fare much better than its film counterpart, but it did contain some fun parodies and solid originals, plus a few snippets of the film itself.  Al's spoof of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," which is essentially the Beverly Hillbillies theme set to different music, was accompanied by an excellent sendup of the Straits video.  Other highlights were "Spam," based on REM's "Stand," and two hilarious originals, "Generic Blues," which literally just recycles all the woe-is-me blues lyrical tropes, and folk-rock epic "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota," which recounts in great detail a trip to go see the World's Largest Twine Ball (Yes, such a thing actually exists).  Released at a time when a) the summer movie season was quite cluttered (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Batman, Star Trek V, and Lethal Weapon 2), and b) Weird Al's record sales were somewhat contingent on including a Michael Jackson parody, this album and film kinda got lost in the shuffle.  But it's not too shabby at all and shows evidence of Al's growth as a musician.

Key Tracks: Generic Blues, Spam, The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota

9. Dare to Be Stupid

Al's third album, and the first musical comedy album to see a CD release, showed that Al was growing beyond his reputation as "that funny guy who does the Michael Jackson parody."  With songs like "Like a Surgeon," "I Want a New Duck," and the superb "Yoda" (based on The Kinks' "Lola"), Al was attempting to last beyond the fifteen-minute lifespan most gave him.  But it's in the original songs where this album really achieves.  Style parodies like the doo-wop ballad "One More Minute" and the Devo-inspired title track demonstrated Al's gift for recreating different genres (Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh once said that "Dare to Be Stupid" captured the exact sound he himself had been trying to create).

Key Tracks: Dare to Be Stupid, One More Minute, Yoda

Monday, September 11, 2017

WCW Monday Nitro #2: Panic Ensues, The World and US champs Defend Live on TV

Last week's show was a great romp through wackiness. These opening weeks look to be a great bridge between the best parts of the late 80s, and the good things to come in the Attitude Era. Last week did a great job setting up this week's Nitro, when we were promised Sabu, Mr. Wall Street, and what was bound to be an awesomely horrendous Main Event of Lex Luger and Hulk Hogan. I couldn't wait for Nitro from 22 years ago!

Monday Nitro #2
September 11th, 1995, from the Knight's Center in Miami, Florida

We were read the line up for the night, including the Norton and Savage match I've been really excited for, and "The Match of the Century" between Hogan and Luger. Oh, we'll get to that.

Sabu vs Alex Wright

This was Sabu's debut on Nitro, not WCW though. He certainly was Sabu, doing Sabu things like springboard leg lariats, ridiculous dives, shortening his career, etc.. At one point, Mongo compared Sabu to a Full Back in football. I have minimal football knowledge, but a quick Wikipedia search says otherwise. I think I've seen Wright a couple times now, and he's always proven to be really solid technically. His German suplex bridge was particularly good. Eventually, after Bischoff hypes up such things as the Arabian Facebuster and the Arabian Leg Drop, Sabu won with a top rope Victory Roll, which looked a lot more devastating than it sounds.

And then, Sabu needed to be Sabu. He got a table out. not a table as we know it today. This was a table approximately half way between today's gimmick tables, and those tables at your grandma's church when they play bingo. It was a sturdy, meaty table that Alex Wright was leaned against. Sabu took a leap of faith off the top rope, overshot his mark completely and went head first into the table. It was terrifying, and the decision on the match was reversed by Disqualification. What the fuck.

Looks great as a gif, though.

Ric Flair came out and started being Ric Flair. He complained that Arn wasn't out slamming beers and women with him. Not in those exact words, but might as well have. Luger came out halfway through, and Ric started salivating at the sight of his old running mate. He called him "Package" at least once. Lex only came out to say that ric never changes, then left. Why? I have no clue.

WCW United States Championship
Sting (c) vs. VK Wallstreet

As Sting came out, Bischoff told us that Shawn Michaels was winning his match on the opposite channel, and that we shouldn't bother changing over to them. Sting, the great white meat babyface that I maintain every company needs, was able to get a really good match from Wallstreet. no disrespect meant towards Rotunda, but in 1995 his already small window of prime was past him a while ago. Sting went for  a slingshot dive into the ring and became almost the second casualty on this show when Wallstreet wasn't there to catch him. The finish was so simple it was great, just a crossbody by Sting off the top rope. Shit used to be so simple to get right.

Movie Review: It (2017)

If I may be permitted a small pun, holy sh-IT.

Andy Muschietti's new adaptation of Stephen King's horror epic is stylish, lovingly crafted (Lovecraft?), at times very moving, and at others exhilaratingly terrifying.  Muschietti and the screenwriters (Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman) have wisely stripped down King's sometimes disorganized, unwieldy narrative and presented the most effective components: a group of bullied, outcast children, a small town in Maine with a centuries-old curse, and an omniscient, wantonly evil entity that often takes the form of a demonic clown.  But this film excels in its presentation of the details, and especially in its performances.

Films populated with child characters generally stand or fall based on the quality of the acting, and fortunately It boasts a tremendous cast of juveniles with tangible, easy chemistry together.  Jaeden Lieberher brings a pervading sense of uncertainty and sadness as the leader of the kids' Losers Club, stutterer Bill Denbrough, whose younger brother Georgie was killed by It several months earlier.  Jeremy Ray Taylor as overweight new kid Ben Hanscomb is precocious and studious, obsessed with researching the history of Derry, Maine and its inordinate number of child disappearances.  Finn Wolfhard shows wonderfully natural comedic timing as the group's smartass Richie Tozier, who provides most of the film's laughs (Wolfhard's effortless sense of humor reminded me of a young Corey Feldman).  But the standout of the bunch is Sophia Lillis as the group's lone female member, Beverly Marsh.  Bev is the one member of the group who rises above the schoolyard bullying, displaying a defiant confidence and dignity that confounds her antagonists.  And it's with good reason - compared to her father's inappropriate advances at home, bullying at school is a cakewalk.

The character building of the protagonists yields numerous sequences of warmth and camaraderie (King's novels, no matter how frightening, generally include very relatable characters and a kind-hearted tone); we care about what happens to the kids because we genuinely like them.  Watching these kids interact I couldn't help being reminded of both The Goonies and another King-inspired film, Stand By Me.  These actors legitimately seemed like they'd been friends for years, and even without the horror trappings this would've made an engaging coming-of-age story.

But the horror is where the money is, and It delivers admirably in that department as well.  Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard is a horrifying force of nature as the monstrously abhorrent Pennywise the clown, with his high-pitched, flinty voice and oversized, slightly askew yellow eyes.  Even when Pennywise isn't widening his mouth impossibly agape to reveal rows of shark-like teeth, Skarsgard takes palpable joy in conveying the character's otherworldly, vibrant menace.  His presence hangs like a soul-crushing blanket over the film, despite Skarsgard's nominal screen time.  The scares are mostly presented in typical modern Hollywood fashion (jump-scare with loud clanging noise on the soundtrack), and perhaps a more adventurous approach could've been taken to set these moments apart from their lesser horror counterparts.  But Pennywise is such a haunting villain, Skarsgard's performance is so sure-footed, and the visuals so striking, that the rather safe execution of these moments worked for me in spades.  Side note: I'm calling this now - Bill Skarsgard should be the next actor to play The Joker.  Make it happen WB.... 

It's no secret that this film only covers half of King's massive tome - fitting the entire 1000-page novel into one feature-length film would be nigh impossible - so we only see these characters as children here, and we'll have to wait till 2019 to see what happens to them as adults.  Given how successful opening weekend was, I have to think part 2 will be fast-tracked, and I can't wait to see how Muschietti & co. handle the remaining material.  Will this film stand the test of time and become a perennial horror favorite like its source material?  Hard to say at this point (a lot will depend on how the sequel turns out), but for me this adaptation got basically everything right, giving us an enthralling story of a group of childhood friends with one of the most legitimately terrifying horror characters in some time.  It's appropriate that the events take place in the 80s because I often felt like I was watching a really effective 80s horror film.  Nothing to sneeze at. 

I give It ***1/2 out of ****. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Top Ten Things: Worst NWA/WCW World Champions

Welcome to another Top Ten Things here at, where I gripe about yet another wrestling championship whose prestige has been sharted on because of nonsensical title reigns.  Christ guys, get it together....

Today I'm talkin' about the granddaddy of them all.  The original holy grail of pro wrestling.  The NWA/WCW World Heavyweight Championship.  It's the one that supposedly dates back to 1905 when wrestling was on the level.  In actuality it can only be traced back to 1948, and the WCW version ceased to be recognized by the National Wrestling Alliance as of 1991.  The actual NWA World Title is still in existence today, after a five-year association with TNA.  But since the NWA's current footprint is quite small nowadays I'll only be discussing the two versions that were truly considered World Titles - the original incarnation from 1948-1991, and the WCW World Title which covered 1991-2001.  For many years this championship was THE most prestigious in wrestling.  Before WWE became the juggernaut it is today, Vince Sr's northeast WWWF promotion was an upstart offshoot of the NWA, and thus their top championship wasn't considered quite as big a deal as the NWA's.  Ditto for the AWA World Title (established in 1960).  For a good twenty years the NWA World Title was the big one.  And then in the mid-90s when WCW surged in popularity, their version of the World Title was viewed as the top belt in the game.  For a little while anyway.  But both versions of the championship had their share of stinker champs.  Here are ten of them..... 

1. Tommy Rich (1981)

For a long time Rich was the youngest-ever World Champion.  A popular mainstay in Georgia Championship Wrestling, Rich upset the legendary Harley Race for the belt at the age of 24.  And then he lost it back to Race four days later.  What the hell was the point you ask?  Apparently the switch was done to gain promoter Jim Barnett power within the NWA.  But Jeezus Christ this was stupid, and given that Rich never attained world championship status again, this ensured his career peaked very early.  If you're gonna give a young, unlikely babyface a run with your top belt, at least give him a chance to see how he does.  Otherwise skip it.

2. Kerry Von Erich (1984)

Ugh, Kerry Von Erich stunk.  Seriously, I never liked this guy, and it still bugs me that of all people he got to beat Ric Flair for the belt, less than six months removed from Flair's epic Starrcade '83 win.  I know the original plan was for Kerry's brother David Von Erich to become the NWA's new top babyface before he died, but did we really need to put the belt on Kerry for 18 days just as a tribute?  The match wasn't even that good, and they had to put the belt back on Flair anyway because he had a big match scheduled against Steamboat.  If making Kerry the Champion is gonna get in the way of the match you're really serious about promoting, what's the point of doing it?

3. Ron Garvin (1987)

Speaking of unworthy dudes getting to defeat Flair, in 1987 the NWA was looking to set up a huge main event for Starrcade, particularly since the WWF had countered the flagship supercard with the inaugural Survivor Series.  The idea was for someone to unseat Flair as the champion so Flair could win the title back in grand fashion at Starrcade.  Problem was, no one wanted to be a transitional champion for two lousy months, but Garvin took the job (for which I don't blame him; he was 42 years old at the time).  So Garvin was booked to win the belt in September, and then didn't defend it for two months.  Don't ask me why - a handful of good title defenses would've at least made him look like he belonged in that spot.  Flair of course regained the title at the big PPV, and on the bright side, the match was pretty great.  But Ronnie Garvin was never really presented as World Champ material and his career never reached anywhere near that level again.  They really should've just let Barry Windham beat Flair at the Crockett Cup in April, have a solid seven-month run, and then lose it back at Starrcade.  That would've been something.

Revisiting and Reviewing Green Day's nimrod.

by Michael Drinan

On September 2nd I posted a picture on Instagram (@thesurfacenoise people, what up!) my copy of Green Day’s nimrod. record with the caption: “I love 90s Green Day. So much energy and attitude, mixed with a smart ass sense of humor. But Nimrod never sat well with me. I give them credit for having a different approach on this album, a little musical diversification, but at the end of the day I only like 3 songs off this one, my favorite being "The Grouch". They bounced back for me a couple of years later with Warning but this one still hasn't grown on me.”

I received three comments to my post, one calling me a “stupid face” and that I was wrong, the other two commenters said that they never heard of a fan of 90s Green Day who disliked this album. It’s those two comments that really made me shake my head in disbelief. How could I be the only person who doesn’t care for this album while loving the rest of the band’s 90s catalog? Then I thought, well maybe I’m missing something. The album was released in 1997 when I was seventeen so maybe my interpretation of the songs would be different since my musical palette has certainly expanded within the twenty years of it’s release. Also, it has been a while since I last listened to this album so it wouldn’t hurt to revisit it.

So I did. Here’s my review.

Let’s begin with what I like about the album. First off, it’s not a bad album. It has a consistent sound and the things I like about Green Day are there: the energy, humor and some very creative word play in the lyrics. I’ve always loved the line in “Hitchin’ A Ride”: “Do you brake for distilled spirits?/I need a break as well/The well that inebriates the guilt”, along with the line “Cold turkey’s gettin’ stale/Tonight I’m eating crow”, which sums up perfectly the song’s subject matter about falling off the wagon of sobriety. Billie Joe has always been a good lyricist and who is able string together a narrative for an entire project very well. He continues this on nimrod., even though the album was written to be a collection of individual songs that have nothing to do with one another. It still works.

Before I re-listened to this album, I only liked three songs off it and two of them were the singles “Hitchin’ A Ride” and “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)”, the other one is “The Grouch”, my favorite on the album. It’s a song about Billie Joe’s fear of regret, growing up into a person that’s settled in life with a nagging wife and a son that’s a fuck up, and also losing his ideals. The song really served itself as a lesson to me at seventeen and I still hold true to most of the ideals of my youth without the compromising effect adulthood can have.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Eve of Destruction: Previews NJPW in Fukushima, Hiroshima, and Kobe

But...but I have All Japan and NOAH to catch up on still...

Right, we have three upper tier shows coming at us in the next four weeks. Each one has a marquee singles match to catch, and in between all these are several more title matches and multi-mans, many of which are going to be excellent in their own right. Even if someone wanted to skip the filler (like I'm going to in this preview) it'll be a Long September for all of us. Well, if we don't start, we're never going to finish. Justin and I are gonna cover the major matches from all three shows, and let you know our picks for who'll win. The road to the Tokyo Dome is heading through Destruction!

Destruction in Fukushima, September 10th in Azuma Sport's Park

IWGP Tag Team championships
War Machine(c) vs Guerillas of Destiny vs Killer Elite Squadron

Landon- This is going right up here because this match is happening on all three cards in the next month. This is going to be the greatest series of car crashes ever seen in New Japan. All three teams have exactly one specialty; beating the shit out of their opponents. I don't know how many times the titles will change in September. Maybe all three times, but I'm hoping for zero. War Machine should walk out of Kobe with the belts, no matter who wins Fukushima and Hiroshima.

Justin- I find it very odd we're getting this same match three times, but they should all be enjoyable.  Hopefully they'll find ways to make them all different, other than simply changing the titles.  I agree with Landon, the belts should stay put throughout the series.  But I think there'll be at least one title change.  Let's say KES wins the first match.

NEVER Openweight 6-Man tag Team championships
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL, SANADA, and BUSHI) vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Rocky Romero, and Toru Yano)

Landon- I really hope that the CHAOS group doesn't win here. The whole match looks like it's just a backdrop for Okada and EVIL's match coming up in October, and changing the titles here would be a serious mistake. I don't think there's a trio in New Japan right now that is better than SANADA, BUSHI, and EVIL are, and they should be trios champions for a long time, possibly forever.

Justin- Agreed, LIJ retains.

NEVER Openweight Championship
Minoru Suzuki(c) vs Michael Elgin

Landon- Ever since January, when I was introduced to the wonder that is Minoru Suzuki, I've always put my chips down on him. Yeah, I got burned for it at the New Beginning, but since then, he's been a safe bet. But here? I'm putting my faith in Big Mike. Raw power is the one thing that can believably counter just how dangerous Suzuki can be as a striker and grappler. If Elgin doesn't win the NEVER Openweight Championship here, I honestly have no idea who could possibly dethrone the Lonely Warrior.

Justin- This should be a great, brutal fight.  Big Mike has to win here.  He'll be a perfect custodian for the badass division that is NEVER Openweight.

Destruction in Hiroshima, September 16th in the Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall

IWGP Junior Tag Team Championships
Taguchi Japan (Ryuske Taguchi and Ricochet)(c) vs. Suzuki-Gun (Taichi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

Landon- Look, I l...I liiiii-la-la-la....I think Taichi is okay. And Kanemaru has proven to be pretty good the more I watch him. My love for Taguichi, however, can only be beaten by a few individuals. Even with my lukewarm respect for Ricochet and what he does, I'm going to be cheering for the Funky weapon here. Also, because we need to stop playing hotshot potato with the Junior Tag Titles.

Justin- Taichi and Kanemaru are the bottom of the Suzuki-Gun barrel, and Taguchi Japan just won the belts.  They keep them here.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
KUSHIDA(c) vs El Desperado

Landon- After the Best of The Super Juniors, I think a lot of people realized just how great Despy can be, minus assault with pens. But KUSHIDA two-belts-with-two-trophies (ehh, we'll work on that one) is on the roll of a lifetime right now, and Desperado shouldn't be the one who stops that streak. I think it'll be a good match, but Suzuki-Gun goes 0-2 in Hiroshima.

Justin- This is what you call a filler title defense.  Don't get me wrong, Kushida is hard-pressed to have a bad match with anyone, but I don't see Desperado dethroning him.  Kushida will and should keep the belt till at least Tokyo Dome.

IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Hiroshi Tanahashi(c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Landon- I don't know how this one is going to go. The fact coming into this match is that Tanahashi is injured. His arm is probably getting worse by the day. He'll never want to admit it, but at some point it's going to give out on him if he doesn't get the surgery. Sabre may not be the best choice for this title swap, but who would be at this point? With The Dome coming in 4 months, we need to seriously start considering what the Intercontinental Title match will be, and surgery would take Tanahashi out until past the show. So we either have a hurt Tanahashi, or we start to get a new champion ready to defend the belt. Is Sabre the man? Well, he could be.

Justin- Zack Sabre is fucking awesome.  And he should win the strap.  And I think he will.  Clearly the company has plans for him, given how well he fared in the G1.  Tanahashi takes time off to heal or have surgery and hopefully returns in time for WK12.

Destruction in Kobe, September 24th in the Kobe World Hall

IWGP US Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega(c) vs Juice Robinson

Landon- Kenny was recently pulled from all of the shows leading up to Kobe, to heal what is being reported as a meniscus related issue. Even if Kenny comes in at 60%, this'll still be an awesome match. Juice has had a ridiculous rise in stock over the past year, and I actually wouldn't be upset if he took the US title from Kenny. However, I think Omega retains the title.

Justin- This should be pretty great.  Hopefully Kenny's injury isn't serious.  I think he retains till at least WK12 when he faces (Please God, I need this) Kota Ibushi in the semi-main event.

Strap yourselves in, clear your calendars, and get ready for New Japan to give you their all in September. I'm sure we'll see you on the other side of each show.

Why Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy Stinks

by Dan Moore

Let's get this outta the way: that title is clickbait & complete hyperbole.

Even Bruce agrees I'm a nutjob. 

But there's always been a part of those movies that has pissed me off (besides the Batman smoker's voice).

Bruce Wayne leaves Gotham city and heads off to the great expanse of the globe to become a crimefighter. A tale as old as time. No problems there. It's when he returns to Gotham that it starts to get a little messy.

Bruce buys a buncha shit and decides to fight the crime makers. Great. And he's dressed up like a dunce because his fetish gear I mean Bat suit ain't ready yet.

"In my spare time, I rob the 7-Eleven."

Then he becomes Batman proper, beats up Liam Neeson and is told at the end of Batman Begins that the Joker is coming for that ass. The Dark Knight begins with Batsy hot on the trail of the Joker from the previous movie. So he starts fighting It and also beats up on a victim of a tragic accident that has left him facially disfigured. 


Monday, September 4, 2017

WCW Monday Nitro #1: WCW Erupts, Launching the Monday Night Wars

September 4th 1995

The Mortal Kombat movie was on the top of the Box Offices.

People were still waiting for the verdict on the OJ Simpson case.

In less than a week, the Sony Playstation would be released.

And Monday Nitro aired for the first time.

I was one and a half years old when Monday Nitro debuted on TNT. I've been watching professional wrestling now for over a decade, and I think it's time to find out what I didn't get a chance to watch. WWE would have you believe that their rival was fucked up from the first day, only giving grudging respect. But I want to find out for myself. So I'm going to watch Nitro every Monday night, for at least a year, and see just how good, or bad, Monday Nitro was.

Monday Nitro emanated from the Mall of Goddamn America, which is definitely an unconventional venue, but it certainly helped make the product seem different. And it's only an hour long, which was the standard set by RAW at the same time. The commentary team is Eric Bischoff (Okay), Bobby Heenan (Always a Plus),and the infamous, the wonderful, Steve "Mongo" McMichael. I only know the man by reputation, and if you follow along with me, we'll find out if the stories I've heard are true. But, never mind that shit, because we have our first match.

Friday, September 1, 2017

NXT Brooklyn: The Third One

I just got off of a month of G1 matches, and I was afraid being burned out of really good New Japan content would hurt my opinions of this entire show. Plus, I haven't kept up on NXT in so long, that I thought I'd end up just glance over this card and not really pay attention. But I'll be damned if this wasn't the most fun I've had watching a WWE product in some time. Every match was as good, if not better, than was expected. Top to bottom the card delivered, each match felt different from the next.

Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade Cien Almas

The crowd was immediately hot for this match, which amazed me. This may surprise some of you but Johnny Gargano is really good at this. He may be the best White Meat Babyface the company has right now. What actually surprised me was Andrade, who seems to have finally clicked in NXT. He seemed a lot more confident and smoother in the ring than he was last time I watched one of his matches. The two had a very good match, for an opener. They kept the psychology simple and everything they did made sense. The ending was also clever, with Almas' manager distracting Johnny with a DIY shirt, before he was hit with a Hammerlock DDT and pinned. Originally I had picked Gargano to win here, but Almas definitely needed the momentum more here for...something we dont know yet.


SAnitY (Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe) vs The Authors of Pain for the NXT Tag Team Titles

Okay, let's get the negative out of the way: Im tired of not being able to tell the Authors of Pain apart. If I'm gonna have to watch these two, I need something better than "one has tattoos on his arm" to tell them apart. I'm begging someone to get their hair cut/not cut. Besides that, this was another really fun match. SAnitY was set up to be a more cohesive unit, and smarter as a whole than Paul Ellering leading the AOP was. Setting them up as a mind game playing stable is great. The teams ended up trading off who was face and who was heel during the match, which was an interesting event. It was the typical Authors of Pain match besides this, until the finishing 4-way made this match awesome. Nikki Cross is a trooper for taking the pain she did, going through a table sandwiched between Dane and one of the Authors. The maneuver that Wolfe and Young used to end the match fell a little flat, but it was still a  decent reaction for their win.


ReDRagon came out after and murdered everyone only as ReDRagon can. So that was awesome, and playing into events that would transpire after the main event.

Top Ten Things: Quentin Tarantino Films

Welcome to another edition of's Top Ten Things, where I compile a list of ten of something and then demonstrate the arrogance to imply my opinion of them is undisputed fact.  Buuut who are we kiddin', it is....

Today I'll be discussing the films of one of my favorite writer/directors, Quentin Tarantino.  Exploding on the scene in 1992, Tarantino brought a "film geek" sensibility to Hollywood, having absorbed decades of movies while working as a video store clerk and using his natural stylistic ability to create a new genre of films.  He sold his first two screenplays to the studios before making his directorial debut with Reservoir Dogs, and then became a household name with his second film Pulp Fiction.  Since then Tarantino has created pastiches of crime dramas, samurai films, Westerns, and even horror movies with unabashed glee and incredible attention to memorable characters and quirky dialogue.  When you sit down to watch a Tarantino film you know you're getting an unforgettable (and likely very uncomfortable) cinematic experience.

Note: I'm including three films Tarantino wrote but didn't direct, as I felt they all warranted inclusion.  Also you'll find Death Proof didn't make the cut.  I absolutely love the first half of that film - the characters are strong and colorful, the villain is compelling, the style feels like a grindhouse flick.  But in the second half I found the characters fairly dull and overly chatty, and the climactic car chase is pretty uninteresting, not to mention QT inexplicably abandoned the "scratchy footage" gimmick.

10. From Dusk Till Dawn

Probably the lowest-quality of these ten films, From Dusk Till Dawn is nonetheless a skillfully-made roller coaster of a horror film starring an exceedingly compelling George Clooney and Tarantino himself as Seth and Richard Gecko, two escaped criminals attempting to reach the Mexican border before the authorities catch them.  On the way they take a family of three hostage and hijack their mobile home before stopping off at a Mexican strip club to await an associate.  The first half of the film plays out in typical Tarantino fashion, with playfully vulgar dialogue and high-tension standoffs, with director Robert Rodriguez lending his own visual style to the proceedings.  In the second half though the film takes a 90-degree turn when it's revealed the strip club is a vampire lair, and our protagonists must fight for their lives against a gaggle of bloodsuckers to make it till morning.  Structurally this plays out like a Romero zombie film but with a much more sardonic tone and a ton of uncomfortable laughs.  Clooney demonstrated in his first major Hollywood role what a strong leading man he was - Seth is an eminently likable bastard - and his chemistry with Tarantino is undeniable.  The two leads and scores of snappy lines of dialogue really carry this film past being a crappy horror film and into the realm of a loving homage.

9. Jackie Brown

The only direct adaptation he's ever written, Jackie Brown is based on Elmore Leonard's novel Rum Punch, and tells the story of a middle aged flight attendant who works for a gun-runner, smuggling cash into the country from Mexico.  Jackie gets caught by the Feds who recruit her to help bring down her boss Ordell, and she eventually concocts a plan to bring in Ordell's $500,000 in retirement money, in exchange for sparing her life.  However her real plan is to keep all the money for herself and disappear, and she befriends a bail bondsman who offers to help her.  This dialogue-driven heist film is smartly written and full of colorful characters, including Jackie (Pam Grier), the gun-runner Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson), the bail bondsman (Robert Forster), ATF agent Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton), Ordell's girlfriend Melanie (Bridget Fonda), and his old buddy Louis (Robert DeNiro).  The complex story has a ton of moving parts but Tarantino's script keeps everything clear and pretty taut.  While this is a very fine film I've ranked it ninth mostly because it feels the least Tarantino-ish.  While he's made much of it his own, the story and most of the characters still belong to Leonard, who kept everything pretty toned down.  Thus QT's personality isn't as strongly felt as it might've been.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Top Ten Things: Wrestling T-Shirts

Welcome one and all to yet another edition of Top Ten Things, here at!  It's a list of ten things.  A list steeped in hyperbole.  I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Today we'll be talking about the greatest wrestling T-shirts of all time, in my humble estimation (Ah fuck humble, I'm right!).  Wrestling T-shirts are an invaluable marketing tool for any wrestling star.  Not only do you get fans to pay to advertise you to the world, if a T-shirt design is particularly eye-catching and memorable it can elevate that wrestler in the eyes of the fans (and management).  Think of how many times you watched a RAW or Nitro and saw a sea of Austin 3:16 or nWo shirts in the crowd.  The T-shirt can help make the star, especially if it sells like hotcakes and the company has no choice but to push the wrestler.  Generally speaking the best shirts in my opinion are either very simplistic and easy to spot, or tastefully pay homage to existing pop culture imagery.  It also helps when the wrestler himself frequently wears the shirt, giving the garment an air of authenticity (In fact every entry on this list falls into that category).  Here now is my list of the best wrestling T-shirt designs....

10. Eddie Guerrero (Scarface)

Our first entry is a play on the iconic poster for the film Scarface.  While I've never been much of a fan of this movie, the poster is one of the great pieces of cinema marketing, and Eddie's shirt uses this theme beautifully.  It also fits Eddie's character, that of the lying, cheating, stealing con man who makes no apologies for his win-at-all-costs mentality.  This was one of the few great shirts of the Ruthless Aggression era.

9. Cactus Jack (Wanted)

Speaking of a shirt befitting a character, how perfect is Cactus Jack's shirt displaying a Wanted poster for the crazed outlaw?  It worked so well in fact that when Mick Foley resurrected the Cactus persona in 1997 he actually wrestled in the shirt.  It's a simple design with an indie feel to it, and it encapsulates the violent, maniacal Cactus Jack character.

8. John Cena (NES)

Another shirt that lifts its design from existing artwork, this one is based of course on the cover art for Nintento Pro Wrestling, one of the earliest and most beloved wrestling video games.  For years this was the go-to game for wrestling enthusiasts.  As you may recall, the WWF's early entries in the video game arena were quite lacking, but this game had serious replay value.  Anywho, Cena's shirt simply substitutes his likeness where Fighter Hayabusa's once resided, as he's about to drop the Five Knuckle Shuffle.  On the back we get images of Cena dropping the move, with control pad iconography below.  Just a brilliant play on the NES artwork and one of several very cool Cena shirts (I also love the Pabst Blue Ribbon one).